Is Malaysia prepared for a Covid-19 Delta Variant surge?
According to the recent testimony by the head of the Oxford Vaccine Group, Professor Sir Andrew :Pollard to the United Kingdom all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on coronavirus, reaching herd immunity is “not a possibility” with the current Delta variant.
The British media reported the evidence of Pollard to the UK parliamentary group on Tuesday who said that the fact that vaccines did not stop the spread of Covid-19 meant reaching the threshold for overall immunity in the population was “mythical”.
He said: “The problem with this virus is [it is] not measles. If 95% of people were vaccinated against measles, the virus cannot transmit in the population.
“The Delta variant will still infect people who have been vaccinated. And that does mean that anyone who’s still unvaccinated at some point will meet the virus … and we don’t have anything that will [completely] stop that transmission.”
The authorities should take fully into account that although the existing vaccines are very effective at preventing serious Covid illness and death, they do not stop a fully vaccinated person from being infected by the virus that causes Covid-19.
The concept of herd or population immunity relies on a large majority of a population gaining immunity – either through vaccination or previous infection – which, in turn, provides indirect protection from an infectious disease for the unvaccinated and those who have never been previously infected.
Data from a recent study conducted by Imperial College London suggested that fully vaccinated people aged 18 to 64 have about a 49% lower risk of being infected compared with unvaccinated people. The findings also indicated that fully vaccinated people were about half as likely to test positive after coming into contact with someone who had Covid (3.84%, down from 7.23%).
How can Malaysia claim to have a “whole-of-nation” strategy and approach in the war against Covid-19 when Parliament is locked down and Parliamentary Select Committees are prevented from functioning?
We must take the further steps to firstly, accelerate the slow national vaccination rollout to avoid the pandemic of the unvaccinated, as we have so far only fully vaccinated some 30 per cent of the population while some 50 per cent of the population had received the first dose of the vaccine; and secondly, to prepare the public health system, which is near breaking point in certain areas, to be able to cope with increased demands for ICU units, hospital beds, oxygen supplies and medical support when there is a surge of new Covid-19 cases resulting from Delta, Delta Plus, Lambda and other more transmissible and virulent variants, some of which may be resistant to existing vaccines.